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Investors Who Bought Greif (NYSE:GEF) Shares A Year Ago Are Now Down 31%

Simply Wall St

Greif, Inc. (NYSE:GEF) shareholders should be happy to see the share price up 19% in the last month. But that is minimal compensation for the share price under-performance over the last year. In fact, the price has declined 31% in a year, falling short of the returns you could get by investing in an index fund.

See our latest analysis for Greif

While markets are a powerful pricing mechanism, share prices reflect investor sentiment, not just underlying business performance. One flawed but reasonable way to assess how sentiment around a company has changed is to compare the earnings per share (EPS) with the share price.

Unfortunately Greif reported an EPS drop of 28% for the last year. We note that the 31% share price drop is very close to the EPS drop. So it seems that the market sentiment has not changed much, despite the weak results. Instead, the change in the share price seems to reduction in earnings per share, alone.

You can see how EPS has changed over time in the image below (click on the chart to see the exact values).

NYSE:GEF Past and Future Earnings, September 26th 2019

It's good to see that there was some significant insider buying in the last three months. That's a positive. On the other hand, we think the revenue and earnings trends are much more meaningful measures of the business. Dive deeper into the earnings by checking this interactive graph of Greif's earnings, revenue and cash flow.

What About Dividends?

It is important to consider the total shareholder return, as well as the share price return, for any given stock. The TSR incorporates the value of any spin-offs or discounted capital raisings, along with any dividends, based on the assumption that the dividends are reinvested. It's fair to say that the TSR gives a more complete picture for stocks that pay a dividend. We note that for Greif the TSR over the last year was -28%, which is better than the share price return mentioned above. The dividends paid by the company have thusly boosted the total shareholder return.

A Different Perspective

Greif shareholders are down 28% for the year (even including dividends) , but the market itself is up 3.1%. Even the share prices of good stocks drop sometimes, but we want to see improvements in the fundamental metrics of a business, before getting too interested. Longer term investors wouldn't be so upset, since they would have made 1.7%, each year, over five years. If the fundamental data continues to indicate long term sustainable growth, the current sell-off could be an opportunity worth considering. It is all well and good that insiders have been buying shares, but we suggest you check here to see what price insiders were buying at.

Greif is not the only stock insiders are buying. So take a peek at this free list of growing companies with insider buying.

Please note, the market returns quoted in this article reflect the market weighted average returns of stocks that currently trade on US exchanges.

We aim to bring you long-term focused research analysis driven by fundamental data. Note that our analysis may not factor in the latest price-sensitive company announcements or qualitative material.

If you spot an error that warrants correction, please contact the editor at editorial-team@simplywallst.com. This article by Simply Wall St is general in nature. It does not constitute a recommendation to buy or sell any stock, and does not take account of your objectives, or your financial situation. Simply Wall St has no position in the stocks mentioned. Thank you for reading.